Life is pretty grand these days, hence the single weekly posts and not fully engaged on here like I’d really love to be. I’m not completely in despair of my quasi absence, but I’m hoping things will settle in a way where I can better balance the wide variety of haps and travel. I’ve been here, there, and everywhere, cooking and simply enjoying a little bit of down time. One of the new summer gigs I’ve mentioned before, is hosting a summer cooking class series at LivingSocial! Between now and September, I’ll be rocking some high heels (with flip flips in close proximity, trust me) in front of 40+ or so fabulous ladies (fellas are welcome!) in DC, teaching them how to cook some ridiculously delicious and sexy food… mostly Latin fusion. And of course some flan! Can you imagine me teaching a class without flan? It was our initial thought was to do this insanely perfect dark chocolate bread pudding, but the flan made more sense… at least for now.
And so last night was the kick off and oh joy, how fun was the experience! I’ve taught many cooking classes, mostly in Atlanta, but LivingSocial takes their events to a whole other level. The hands on classes are set up to allow everyone to cook everything from top to bottom… and while in heels! These brave ladies came out blindly and let me teach them how to work it out in stilettos! I was starting to think I was a bit off-centered for expecting them to show in pumps. But they did!
(view of empty, but ready space at LivingSocial, via Instagram)
I wore some 6″ stilettos and yup, just about slipped to oblivion. Twice. I begged them not to Tweet out any pics in the crazy event I’d become one with the floor. Thank goodness I didn’t but for fun’s sake, let’s chalk up the slips to moisture on the floor and not my inability to meander around the space, from station to station, guiding the girls on technique and seasoning. Not all the chicas donned their 5″ pumps, but even those in flip flops (that’s such the DC culture) and chucks, felt ultra chic cooking… starting with a spicy watermelon gazpacho.
I didn’t snap any pics of the gazpacho but I gathered they loved sipping their martini glasses based on the quick clean up by the LS class assistants.
I tend to be a hyper active chatter box, especially with new people, so standing at my station the entire time was not going to work so well for me. My fix for continued instruction was to invite some of the girls up to cook with me. Lily, the young lady in the pic above (wearing a black top in center bottom pic) was super jovial when I asked her to make my quinoa… it was her birthday and her girlfriends treated her to the class. She was adorable and too excited to learn how to score a mango, sautee shallots and flip a flan! If only I could find and hire her to be a part time assistant. Her kind of energy will keep me going!
But Erika, above in red, was a total hoot! She had a front row seat (you know, those are really coveted) and had as much energy as I do, if not more! I think she made the salmon… whatever she made… she did it right and had the class applaud her.
The two young ladies in the top pic of the collage above paid a really nice premium to be at the Chef’s table with me and were having too much fun. I love being able to personally interact with students. They feel much more comfortable asking key questions about me and my work. They were really creative in plating their salmon which tickled me. I encouraged the entire class to think outside the recipe and to use it as a guide. Some over-sauced their plate but most drizzled just the right amount of mango puree. Erika and her friend drew some hearts at my suggestion. It was entirely too cute.
2.5 hours of intense instruction, answering questions and finally eating up everything we made was a perfect way to spend a Thursday night.
We finished off with a sea salted caramel espresso flan. It kind of didn’t need an introduction, but since these brave cooks, most of them 1st timers, don’t know how wildly I’m obsessed with espresso or my increasing number of flan flavors, I had to give them a bit of background. And, since I had to pre-coat the ramekins, I had to be far more engaging with demo’ing the caramel.
I’m thinking the general consensus was that it was amazing…the combo of sea salt and espresso was divine. I’ve done a salted one and an espresso one, separately, but together…oh my! I’ll take all the compliments dished out, but it’s even more wonderful knowing they’d love to try making a flan at home. Some even Instagrammed and Tweeted out their work.
By the end of the class, I was in my flip flops… but not until the students had cleared. I wouldn’t feel bad had they seen me in them, but you know… just not yet.
For Sunday’s class, I’m tweaking up a few things and hoping to pack out the class even more… 35 is great, but 50 would be seriously entertaining! Between online matchmakers, brides-to-be, and birthday girls, there’s not a single second of silence!
Not a typical #FlanFridays, but a flan recipe no less! It’s a good one!
Thanks to Christina for tweeting a picture of her creation! They all did so well! Brava to the DC ladies.
* I snapped all the pics on my iPhone. Except for the flan one…
SALTED CARAMEL ESPRESSO FLAN
- 4 eggs, whisked
- 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup of whole milk
- 8 Tbsp sugar
- 3 oz of Cuban espresso, brewed and unsweetened (I like Bustelo)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. rock salt
- Large and deep pan saucepan for Maria water bath.
Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk eggs in a medium sized bowl. Add and combine sweetened condensed & whole milk, espresso & extract and whisk for about 2 minutes. Set aside. Add sugar and fine salt to an 8" non-stick skillet and caramelize on medium-high heat until it is golden color, stirring constantly. Make sure not to burn sugar. When sugar is fully melted down, carefully coat each ramekin, covering all sides, using circular motion (I suggest using a brush if you are not experienced in handling extremely hot caramel). Move fast if using a brush. Set ramekins aside until sugar has set. Pour egg mixture into each ramekin, filling it to the top of caramel. Cover each ramekin with aluminum foil.
Add 2 cups of water to a larege saucepan. Gently place up to 3-5 ramekins in pan. Place pan in oven and bake on 350F for one hour or until custard is set, checking doness with tootpick. Check for water levesl. Add warm water when needed Repeat until all ramekins are filled. Refrigerate for 8-9 hours or overnight for best taste. Remove from refrigeration 30-45 minutes before serving to loosen some. To serve, using a butter knife, loosen the sides of the flan all the way around. Take a small serving plate, place upside down on top of flan and flip. Garnish each individual flan with extra graham cracker on top or using same butter knife, cover it with remaining caramel from ramekins. Sprinkle rock salt on top of each flan. Garnish with whole coffee beans.
Yields 8 ramekins.